The $100 million Ark Encounter biblical theme park with a life-sized Noah's Ark replica, and its sister institution, the Creation Museum, have finished No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in USA Today's 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards for 2020.
The Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum received the most readers’ votes from a list of the top religious museums in the nation as selected by a panel of top travel experts.
“Both attractions have made Northern Kentucky the leading faith-based destination in America,” the two winners said in a statement Friday.
“We are so grateful to USA Today for considering our internationally recognized attractions in its contest,” said Answers in Genesis' Ken Ham, who is also the CEO and founder of the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum.
USA Today readers were asked to make their choice based on the stories, collections, and message at 20 U.S. museums, each dedicated to sharing the history, culture, art, and traditions of the world’s diverse religious groups and faith communities. The religious museum category included the country’s best Jewish museums, religious art collections, heritage centers, and other sites, from 14 states and the District of Columbia.
“Indeed, people from around the world rave about the exhibits and features at the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, and now these people have validated our exciting attractions from among an impressive list of museums,” Ham said.
“By the way, one could make the argument that USA Today should have included the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in its list. While most people would not consider the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. to be a religious museum, it, too, promotes a worldview: atheism,” he added, explaining, “You see, there are no ‘non-religious’ positions for such museums. Each has a worldview to proclaim. The Ark and Creation Museum are, of course, religious museums in that they promote a theistic Christian worldview.”
Last June, Answers in Genesis announced that they were expanding the Ark Encounter site to include new facilities, partly in response to a growth in annual attendance.
This included the creation of a 2,500-seat auditorium with a 70-foot-long LED screen, expanding the size of the Ararat Ridge Zoo, and opening a larger family play space. “Built by Playground Equipment Services, this family play area is accessible by all children and adults,” said Answers in Genesis. “Parents and grandparents are encouraged to have fun with their kids as a family activity. This cutting-edge playground has been specially designed for children of all abilities.”
In 2017, Answers in Genesis announced that they would be reclaiming the rainbow for God with permanent rainbow lights for their life-sized Noah's Ark replica. “We now have new permanent rainbow lights at the Ark Encounter so all can see that it is God’s rainbow and He determines its meaning in Genesis 6,” Ham said at the time. “The rainbow is a reminder God will never again judge the wickedness of man with a global Flood — next time the world will be judged by fire.”